As a young child growing up in a small town, going to our local library was the highlight of my week. My mom and I would walk the few blocks to main street and I would browse the stacks of books for what felt like hours. I would inevitably leave with a pile of Encyclopedia Brown and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, as well as a few Highlights for Kids magazines for good measure. Sometimes, if I was lucky, we’d even check out a movie or two. Ah! The excitement.
I vividly remember the day that my mom told me I was old enough to walk to the library by myself.
This was a HUGE-FREAKING-DEAL people!
Unfortunately, my excitement and sense of accomplishment at finally being a big girl, was quickly followed by an intense fear.
Walking all 8 blocks to the library was going to be a major feat for me.
Anything could happen.
Someone in a scary white van could offer me candy. One of the neighbor’s dogs could get loose. I could trip on my own shoelaces (hey… it can happen).
As these thoughts piled up in my brain, the distance between home and the library seemed to grow farther and farther. What I at first was elated to do, quickly became an insurmountable obstacle.
There was just no way.
My fear took over and I convinced myself that I’d never know the joy of visiting the library again. There was just too much that could go wrong. Oh, but the books that were on the other side of my fear! Finally, I mustered up the courage (in no small part thanks to my mama) to take the first step in the direction of the library. Slowly putting one foot in front of the other I finally made it. Elated to have conquered my fears, I threw open the front doors only to be greeted by a warning look and stern “shh” from the librarian. It didn’t even phase me though, I had my faced my fears and won.
While going to the library is no longer accompanied by a great amount of fear for me, this pattern hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. I still encounter things that scare me. I still wrestle with wanting to throw in the towel, quit and re-read the Highlights for Kids magazine I got the week before. Who needs the new crossword puzzle anyways?
Much like that first solo trip to the library though, I have learned that the only way to conquer those fears is by simply putting one foot in front of the other. As I do that, I have noticed, that the things that scared me in the past don’t seem to have the same hold anymore. Just like Bob from one of my all-time favorite movies “What About Bob?”, I’ve had to take “baby steps” to face my fears. Each time I do though, I move a little bit further.
I started writing this post a few weeks ago while on an airplane flying over the Atlantic Ocean. I had just had the opportunity to visit countries I had only ever read about in my books as a child and had never ever dreamed that I would one day be able to visit.
I never would have made the trip if I hadn’t first visited the library.
The same applies for you. There may be things in front of you today that seem overwhelming. Perhaps your internal narrative keeps telling you that you can’t do it.
I’m here to tell you today that you can! Just take the first step. Put one foot in front of the other and move forward. You don’t have to figure out how you’re going to scale the whole mountain or conquer all your fear today.
You just have to take the first step.